36-year-old Vasanthi will represent India at the steeplechase event in the World Masters Athletic Championship to be held in Spain.

From domestic worker to champion This TN athlete needs your help to win for India
news Athletics Monday, June 11, 2018 - 18:55

Had someone asked M Vasanthi about her dreams in 2016, she would have said that she wanted more employment opportunities to make ends meet. Working as a domestic worker in two houses and as a cook in a small restaurant in Coimbatore, Vasanthi never imagined that at the age of 36 she would represent India at the World Masters Athletic Championship to be held at Malaga in Spain this September.  

Born in Kottathur near Thuraiyur in Tiruchirapalli district, Vasanthi moved to Coimbatore ten years ago to facilitate her children's’ education. She worked as a domestic worker and her husband Anandan is a driver in a private bus company.

Things changed in 2017 when she saw a WhatsApp message about a 10k run in Pollachi which is open to participation from people aged above 35.

“My husband showed me the message and asked me if I was interested in running. Since getting placed in such events get us money, I said I was interested. So, we went to Coach Vairavan, who was training our children,” Vasanthi says.

Her son and daughter aged 16 and 14 respectively were already training under Coach Vairavanathan from the Genesis Sports Foundation in Coimbatore.

“When she expressed interest in training to run marathons, we were happy to train her. Her son already trains with us and we took her to Coonoor for our annual summer running camp. There she took care of cooking for the kids and also trained herself to run,” says Vairavanathan, her coach from Genesis Sports Foundation, Coimbatore.

“I trained for 15 days with him and then participated in the summer camp in Coonoor. I participated in the race in Pollachi and got the third prize in the 10k category,” she says.

After the Pollachi race, she quit her job and started training full time under Vairavanathan. This prepared her to participate in various events in the district and state levels.

Vasanthi says, “I participated in the district meet which was held in Bharathiyar University campus in 2017. I won the first place in the 5000m and 1500m events in it and qualified for the state event held in Karur.”

Despite never having participated in a race when she was young, athletics came naturally to Vasanthi. At the state meet in Karur, Vasanthi walked away with gold in three events - 800m, 1500m and 5000m. Her medals opened the doors to the National Meet in Bengaluru in February.   

“The meet was organised by the Masters Athletic Federation of India. I won second place in three events (800m, 1500m and 5000m) and the first place in 2000m steeplechase event. This gold earned me a spot in the World Championships in Spain,” she adds.

Vasanthi now spends her day putting in the hours to train for the steeplechase race in Spain. Her day begins at the Jawarhalal Nehru stadium in Coimbatore at 5.30am and goes on till 7.30am. She returns to the track in the evening for another two hours, where her training sessions have helped her to improve her core strength.  

“On days when I feel exhausted, I go to the stadium and do the warmups alone. The coach has asked me to do at least the warmups every day. He has also asked me to train in shorts and not to wear track pants. But I have been using shorts only in the past month. I felt shy initially, but then I have gotten used to it now,” she says.

Expressing her gratitude to her husband and her children, Vasanthi notes, “We were paying all our bills using our earnings only and I cannot imagine doing this without my husband being 100% supportive of my decisions.”

Vasanthi requires Rs 3 lakhs for her trip to Spain but has managed to get only Rs.30,000 till now.

Coach Vairavanathan endorses Vasanthi and says that she is hardworking and dedicated to her training.

“We are actively looking for sponsors to fund her trip. I feel she is a deserving candidate and her hard work has made her reach this point. It would be of great help if people come forward and help this family with whatever they can. Even a small amount can mean a lot to them,” he adds.

If you wish to help sponsor Vasanthi’s trip, you can contact Coach Vairavanathan at 9042889888.

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